Competency-Based Language Teaching (CBLT) focuses on what “learners are expected to do with the language”.
This approach emerged in the United States in the 1970s and can be described as “defining educational goals in terms of precise measurable descriptions of the knowledge, skills, and behaviors students should possess at the end of a course of study”. This movement presents a pattern that is focused on the outputs to learning. It defines the goals and objectives to be reached in such a way, that students´ knowledge, skills and behaviors, can be easily measured.
According to Richards & Rodgers “Competency-Based Language Teaching (CBLT) is an application of the principles of Competency-Based Education to language teaching”. In Competency-Based Education (CBE) the focus is on the “outcomes or outputs of learning”. By the end of the 1970s Competency-Based Language Teaching was mostly used in “work-related and survival-oriented language teaching programs for adults” . Since the 1990s, CBLT has been seen as “the state-of-the-art approach to adult ESL”, so that any refugee in the United States who wished to receive federal assistance had to attend a competency-based program in which they learned a set of language skills “that are necessary for individuals to function proficiently in the society in which they live.
vThe Approaches in CBLT
There are several principals in CBLT:
1. Language is a vehicle for the expression of functional meaning (functional view)
2. Language is a vehicle for the realization of interpersonal relation and for the performance of social transactions between individuals. Language is a tool for the creation and maintenance of social relations. (interactional view)
3. CBLT is built around the notion of communicative competence and seeks to develop functional communication skills in learners. 4. CBLT shares with behaviorist views of learning, the notion that language form can be inferred from language function; that is, certain life encounters call for certain kinds of language.
vThe Implementation of CBLT
1. A focus on successful functioning in society
2. A focus on life skills
3. Task -or performance- centered orientation
4. Modularized instructions
5. Outcomes that are made explicit a priory
6. Continuous and ongoing assessment
7. Demonstrated mastery of performance objectives
8. Individualized, student-centered instruction
vThe Competencies Involved in CBLT
CBLT is built around the notion of communicative competence:
1. Grammatical competence
It refers to linguistic competence and the domain of grammatical and lexical capacity.
2. Sociolinguistic competence
It refers to an understanding of the social context in which communication takes place, including role relationship, the shared information of the participants, and the communicative purpose for their interaction.
3. Discourse competence
It refers to the interpretation of individual message elements in terms of their